Read The Good Parents by Joan London Online


Maya de Jong, an eighteen-year-old country girl from the West, comes to live in Melbourne and starts an affair with her boss, the enigmatic Maynard Flynn, whose wife is dying of cancer. When Maya's parents, Toni and Jacob, arrive to stay with her, they are told by her housemate that Maya has gone away and no one knows where she is. As Toni and Jacob wait and search for MayMaya de Jong, an eighteen-year-old country girl from the West, comes to live in Melbourne and starts an affair with her boss, the enigmatic Maynard Flynn, whose wife is dying of cancer. When Maya's parents, Toni and Jacob, arrive to stay with her, they are told by her housemate that Maya has gone away and no one knows where she is. As Toni and Jacob wait and search for Maya in Melbourne, everything in their lives is brought into question. They recall the yearning and dreams, the betrayals and choices of their pasts - choices with unexpected and irrevocable consequences. With Maya's disappearance, the lives of all those close to her come into focus, to reveal the complexity of the ties that bind us to one another, to parents, children, siblings, friends and lovers. Pacy and enthralling, The Good Parents is at once a vision of contemporary Australia and a story as old as fairytales: that of a runaway girl....

Title : The Good Parents
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781741667936
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 351 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Good Parents Reviews

  • Marvin
    2019-02-23 08:22

    This is a good novel set in Australia. In the first, long chapter, a young woman (18 years old) moves from her rural home to Melbourne. We're introduced to her life there, but at the end of the chapter, just as her parents are arriving to visit her, she disappears from Melbourne (and, mostly, from the novel). The rest of the novel shifts around in time and focus, shedding light on both parents (individually & together), their son, their neighbors, their daughter's housemate, and the father's sister. Somehow this apparent jumble seems to fit together pretty seamlessly, at least partly because the characters are so vividly drawn. There's not enough action to satisfy many readers, I'm sure, and I'm not really sure what it's about: perhaps dis-illusionment--in a positive as well as a negative sense. The parents are aging hippies trying to come to grips with whether the rather mundane family life they have ended up living was the "good" life they started out together being committed to--and all of the other characters, too, in different ways, seem to be struggling to discover what makes a "good" life. One of those books that may be better for the reflections it stimulates than as an actual reading experience.

  • Tracy
    2019-03-05 14:15

    This was a fabulous book. Maya, the daughter of 'the good parents' is - well, she's frankly annoying and unsympathetic and almost pointless, but fortunately while the book starts off with her, it revolves around the rest of the family - her parents, her brother, her aunt. And THEY are all wonderful, rich characters that I loved, particularly the complexity of the parents lives. It speaks to the idea that a parent's life may be their child NOW to a large extent, but it wasn't always and they really have lives and pasts and passions - and still do. The way it layered with Maya being unable to relate to her parents (although to be honest, their relationship is never clear, you get the impression they go from close-knit to her cutting all ties for absolutely no reason, part of my being annoyed by her) because, in a sense, she feels like their lives are too simple - to layering that with the rich and complicated pasts of the parents - to the parents themselves being unable to relate to their own mothers/fathers because of a perceived simplicity. It's fabulous.

  • Mary
    2019-03-25 16:07

    3.5. The ending wasn't plausible, but otherwise this was another brooding, gorgeously written Joan London novel.

  • Katherine Howell
    2019-03-19 11:03

    Loved this. Couldn't wait to get back into the story, thought about it while I was doing other things, and felt so much for all these characters. London's descriptions of those odd feelings we have at odd moments are perfect.

  • Melissa
    2019-02-28 14:17

    I admit did not get through this book--I made it about 1/2 way and skimmed a bunch of that. I just have too many other good books on my "list" to spend my quality Wisconsin reading time trudging through a book that is both poorly developed and seemingly not well-written. This book was filled with too many side-plots, too many characters and too many distractions to be a good novel. I would skip it. Now... if any of my fine friends has read or is reading it and thinks I am wrong let me know and I will give it another shot.

  • Aaronlisa
    2019-02-27 12:05

    This was not an easy novel to read. At times, I seriously considered putting it down and moving onto to another novel. The writing is superb and the tale that it tells is interesting if at times slightly uncomfortable. It's the tale about a young woman who disappears leaving her parents and family to sort out who and what they are. It certainly made me think about identity and who we truly are and who we show the world we are, including those who are supposedly the closest to us.

  • Kate
    2019-03-26 15:02

    I’m going to start with the ending of Joan London’s The Good Parents. I loathed it, which is a shame because up until page 327 (of the 349 page book), I was enjoying the story.It’s rare that an ending derails my reading experience. I’ve read loads of books that have finished in a way that I didn’t like but you’re in the hands of the author, trusting them to steer you to an appropriate conclusion. I assumed I was in safe hands with Joan London and 327 pages of reading confirmed that. And then, as the end of the story drew near, a plot point made me say “Pfft…”. It was as if London decided she couldn’t wait to be done with The Good Parents and so, after creating such vivid characters, the way things went were decidedly lack-lustre.The story starts with 18-year-old Maya, a naive girl from rural Western Australia, who has found a job as a secretary in Melbourne. She begins an affair with her much older boss, Maynard, whose wife has cancer. Maynard’s business dealings are vague and when his wife dies, he closes the office and leaves Melbourne, taking Maya with him. Meanwhile, Maya’s parents – the beautiful Toni and idealistic Jacob – arrive to visit Maya, only to find her gone.Much of The Good Parents is dominated by Toni and Jacob’s back-stories, and sub-plots which focus on relationships deemed ‘unsuitable’ – a girl with a guy from the ‘wrong-side-of-the-tracks’; a relationship where religion is a barrier; a girl with a much older man; a mother involved in an online affair. London creates some excellent characters (notably Jacob’s sister, Kitty, and Maya’s brother, Magnus), which make these otherwise familiar stories interesting. However, there’s an unevenness to this book. For each character that is beautifully developed, there’s one that is lightweight and poorly anchored to the story (Maya’s roommate, Cecile, and Maynard’s son, Andrew).I like London’s writing, although this book lacked the delicacy and wry humour of A Golden Age. There are hints of London’s lovely light touch, particularly in the section where Kitty goes to look after Magnus – the descriptions of Magnus’s mixed tapes (which he calls ‘living sounds’) are wonderful. Also good are some of Toni’s adolescent scenes –“He had chosen exactly the right moment to secure her, when she was at the peak of her contentment and fascination. Yet someone, a long-forgotten maiden aunt perhaps, a voice in her blood, was always whispering in her ear that it was a dangerous luxury to relinquish yourself like this.”Yet the highs are few and far between and the ending left me annoyed.2.5/5

  • Carolyn Mck
    2019-03-09 10:24

    I'd read this before a few years back and couldn't remember it at all, which says something I suppose. But I so enjoyed London's last novel (The Golden Age) that I wanted to revisit this one. I found a lot of pleasures in it and of course remembered more as I went along. It is essentially a novel about what it means to be good. There are many examples of people trying to be good - particularly Jacob and his partner Toni. They are a couple from the 60s who tried commune life in the south-west of Western Australia but ended up living in a small town in the WA wheat belt where Jacob taught English at high school and Toni devoted herself principally to bringing up her two children, Maya and Magnus.But before Toni ran away with Jacob to the commune she had been married to the ambitious and shady character, Cy Fisher, a Perth businessman who showed her a hedonistic life with an edge of danger and criminality. Cy reappears later in the novel in an unexpected role. The novel begins with the daughter Maya running away with her recently widowed boss, Maynard. This element is rather unconvincing, especially as she is expecting her parents to visit her in Melbourne. Left to their own devices in Melbourne, Jacob and Toni are forced into new understandings of their relationship to each other and to their children. Other interesting characters who are also 'good' are Jacob's sister, Kitty, and his neighbour Carlos, who epitomises the simple honest life of the working man, whereas Jacob is more the dreamy intellectual. Overall, this was an uneven work but had much to appreciate especially as the novel progressed. I'm glad I returned to it.

  • Tien
    2019-03-01 08:03

    I'm afraid that I just can't do this book justice - there are just some things (ideals / moral codes / whatever you'd like to call it) that are ingrained in me and somehow, whilst listening to this audiobook, when they are crossed, I feel really annoyed. I'm not usually like this. Maybe this speaks louder than any other descriptions I could expound of the essence of the book. I feel like Jason (who does not feature very much in the book but I wish he had) - a brethren (ie. living apart from the worldlies).Maya was carried away in a current - she went away with her boss / lover when his wife just passed away due to cancer. She told no one except her flat mate (via voicemail while her flatmate, Cecil, was overseas) that she'll be away for a few days. No one knows where she is but her parents were arriving to see her in a few days.Jacob & Toni arrived in Melbourne and was astounded that Maya has disappeared. The story unfolds & weaves their web around Jacob & Toni. The beginning of it all, as Toni believes, was the one night she met Si Fisher, her husband.A very complex novel around relationships, emotions, humanities in our contemporary Aussie setting.

  • Fredsky
    2019-03-12 16:22

    I wanted to love this book after "Gilgamesh", but I didn't. Quite. During the first bunch of pages, the point of view shifted from one character to another so often I completely lost track of who these people were. Finally I decided to make a chart. But then I just calmed down and read. It is not Ms. London's fault that my brain is turning into a sieve. A young woman disappears just when her parents are about to visit. Maya, the missing one, seems to be the central character. The plot ostensibly revolves around her, as her parents sluggishly look for her. But Maya is a voice on the phone to her little brother, if even that; she is practically catatonic. The lives of the parents take over the book. I enjoyed it, but not enough. I want more focus, please.

  • Diane
    2019-02-25 09:58

    I thought this book was going to be about two parents trying to locate their missing daughter. It was . . . a little. There were so many different side-stories and characters, that I often had a hard time figuring out who the characters were, or why their stories were part of the book. The language was beautiful. I didn't feel the daughter's story was well--crafted, or that I understood her character at all. Most interesting to me was the mother's back story. I just didn't think it all tied together well. I'd give this a 2, but decided the writing itself deserved some recognition. Next time, the author should try to focus more on one story and just do it better.

  • Jill
    2019-03-10 08:15

    My rating is 4 - really like it - although there are elements that are both 3 and 5. Joan London is a wonderful writer and has managed to weave many voices and points of view into one story that wavers between intriguing complex (where you have to be paying attention to make sure you're on the same page as the author, and not still on last chapter's person/story), and occasionally muddled.The author does human weakness, frailty and idiosyncracies exceptionally well. The people in this book are deeply flawed. I had to keep remembering "Maya is only 18... she's only 18... that's like, a child + a year" to stop myself from finding her naïve attitudes and choices too stupid for words. And the father character, Jacob, also comes off as deeply flawed. As we uncover his early years including his relationship with the model-beautiful Toni, we learn how useless he is - he almost fails his Grade 12 "Leaving" because he is strangely intoxicated by Tolstoy and can't read anything else... And as a hippie living in a commune, he is a useless worker and can't hold down even the simplest of jobs... But then later, in Melbourne whilst waiting for Maya in a vortex of frenzied inactivity and worry, Toni leaves him alone for 2 weeks while she goes to a Buddhist retreat in the mountains, and he falls in love with the young Cecile, Maya's flatmate, a seemingly serene but beneath-the-surface-angst-ridden young woman on a quest of her own. These scenes, where Jacob falls in love with Cecile, are torturous. We don't ever find out if Cecile feels ANY of these intense emotions charging through Jacob's middle aged mind and body, and he's dangerously close to making a fool of himself.And there's the strange and improbably turns of plot. Toni turning up, with newly shaved Buddhist acolyte head, at the football grand final to find herself behind Cy Fisher in the hot chip line -- a man she married at 18 and whom she ran away from (with the useless but somehow compelling Jacob when she was 20) and has never seen since (if you don't count the veiled hours she spent with him immediately following her mother's funeral). Given that about 100,000 people attend the Aussie Rules grand final, the likelihood of finding yourself behind your not-quite-ex-husband of 20-odd years in the hot chip line is, let's say, very low. And Cy Fisher himself is an enigmatic character. Is he a conman, a standover merchant, a thug? He's strangely sympathetic, although he's in many ways the villain of the piece. Although that spot seems to be slightly shared by Maynard Flynn, Maya's much older and dodgy-seeming boss, always on the make it would seem, shady, secretive, cold. Who, amazingly, has a wonderfully warm, open and sensitive son, Andy. How this lad arrived into early adulthood with such poor parenting can only be imagined, or perhaps his now deceased mother (around whose death a vital plot point turns) is the one who imbued young Andy with humanity, because we're fairly sure it isn't ole dad.Then there are the characters that only get a side look-in -- Jacob's sister Kitty, who is portrayed as nothing more than a podgy annoying little sister earlier in the book, but then returns as a teenage-boy-pied-piper type of character later, cooking up tempting and exotic dishes and falling in love with the newly-left Carlos, the next door neighbour in their small town. Arlene, Kitty and Jacob's mother who seems about as practical as a newly-single woman in the 1970s could be - starting her own business as a boutique owner and seamstress, and making practical if unromantic choices about men. Magnus, Maya's brother - the only character who is drawn with few, if any real flaws. Beryl and Nig, Toni's misunderstood parents who, when you put aside Toni's judgements of them, which are harsh and unyielding, seem to have done a fairly decent job of being parents, at least in that era... Oh, what a mixed bag they are, and despite their many frailties -- beautifully drawn for us by the talented London -- they draw us in. Well, they drew me in. I was captivated. And the situations London puts her people in are also beautifully drawn. The enigmatic and exciting Melbourne is alluring. And the small town of Warton was described to perfection. As a "non country" country girl myself, like Maya, (I, too, never delivered a cow or shore a sheep) she describes this small town to perfection, and captures its spacious beauty and suffocating spaciousness perfectly. Wonderful writing. Would like to read more from her.

  • Maggie
    2019-02-28 11:08

    Maya is a 19 yr old woman who comes to Melbourne from her country town to work for the odd Maynard Flynn with who she starts a physical relationship. She bafflingly and abruptly leaves with him and a business associate whom she has never met before. Her parents, Toni and Jacob, arrive for a planned holiday only to discover Maya has left and no-one knows anything about it.The book explores the lives and at times surprising background of the key players and their various connections. It is less about the parents search for Maya and more about them as people, their history together and apart. We learn about Toni's first marriage to Cy, the local gangster, and her running off with Jacob to a commune. Jacob's current day fascination with Maya's flatmate, Cecile, continues throughout the book.Meanwhile, back on the farm, Maya's brother Magnus is enjoying his solitude. From him we learn of the marriage breakdown of the neighbours, Carlos and Chris (Chris leaves to join her internet lover in the US), which results in a new relationship between Jacob's sister and Carlos. We also hear about Jason Kay, Maya's first but forbidden love, a member of a strict religious sect.Sound confusing? Yet somehow the story comes together despite the mishmash of characters, locations and time zones. Oddly enough it is Maya we know the least about. She struck me as the least interesting or appealing character in the book. Whilst I did not necessarily warm to Maya's parents their lives are fleshed out in greater detail so a sense of understanding is reached by the book's end.

  • Siegrist
    2019-03-25 16:14

    The Good Parents is a wonderful book – complex and detailed. At its centre are Toni and Jacob, parents of eighteen year old Maya who has disappeared. They are an attractive couple: “The couple didn’t think of themselves as old. They wore jeans and leather jackets and much-polished RM Williams boots, more like aging rockers than hippies…You could say a sort of small town version of Nick Nolte and Anjelica Huston”. They are ostensibly happy together and are "good parents". However the stress of their daughter's disappearance causes flashback reflections on their lives so far and the choices they have not made. Jacob remembers a moment in his youth when studying for his exams he abandons his study to elicitly read War and Peace, achieving a lack lustre grade for his beloved English, and by default falling into a career as an English teacher in a country town. Toni's good looks catch the eye of a gangster at the bus stop and she defaults into marriage. Toni and Jacob connect by accident, run away and have a family.The minor characters are great. Jacob's sister Kitty, also a teacher, falls into a lifetime of unsatisfying relationships having at one stage "three abortions in a year". Her story - a passionate fling with the possibility of a last chance child - was poignant. Maya, the teenager who is seduced by her truly horrible boss, is also passive, passive character. What was she thinking?

  • Em
    2019-03-25 12:00

    I am delighted to have discovered this book, Joan London writes beautiful, lyrical and descriptive prose which is a total pleasure to read. The novel considers the experiences, relationships and emotional ties between spouse, siblings and of course children and their parents.We begin with Maya, an 18 year old who having left home disappears immediately prior to her parents arrival to visit - her parents Jacob and Toni reflect and revisit their lives. They consider events from their childhood onward, retracing their steps whilst trying to understand how they've arrived at this point and how to find their daughter. Maya is naive and somewhat passive but by the end I felt that this could be attributed in part to her age and there's hope yet. There are a number of well drawn subsidiary characters such as Magnus (Mayas brother), Kitty (Jacobs sister) and Cy (Toni's shady ex) to mention a few.This is a complex, detailed book which although character driven, takes time to convey the Australian landscape in which it is set. The places being as lifelike as people.

  • Edith
    2019-03-11 15:59

    Interesting story by this Australian author. It had me thinking about all the reasons/influences/forces that converge to create the life we personally find ourselves living. This story made me reflect on why we make the decisions that we do about HOW we are going to live, and WHO we are going to live with. The story begins with a young girl making an 'on the spot' decision to leave her current living circumstances...and the mystery remains WHY? That is only one of the questions that lies hovering throughout this whole novel. The parent's history is explored and there are WHY 'mysteries' there as well. I found the parents a bit of an odd lot, but then I guess if a writer took a close look at some of us, we would come across as "odd lots" ourselves! Anyhow,I'm pretty sure my husband and I would!At the end of the book, I found myself wanting more follow-up on the characters. The feeling is that there were major shifts happening in their lives and life changes were afoot. I was left curious.

  • Maree Kimberley
    2019-03-23 12:20

    I enjoyed London's The Good Parents. Great storytelling style, interesting and well-rounded characters for the most part. At times I found the portrayal of the parents Jacob and Toni a little on the cliched side (she finds herself at Buddhist retreat; he is attracted to younger woman) but this was handled quite well overall. I really liked Magnus, the younger brother. He seemed the most 'real' to me, and I loved the portrayal of his relationship with his sister Maya, as well as with his auntie. The denouement (how they 'found' the missing Maya) was a little forced, however, although I didn't quite buy it I enjoyed the writing enough to go along with it. It is a very visual book, the opening scene set in the bathroom is still quite vivid in my mind. For me, one of the most appealing things about London's writing is its painterly quality, and it was this that kept drawing me back to the book when other elements were a little lacking.Overall, a great read, and I'd highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys literary fiction dealing with family relationships.

  • Maddie
    2019-03-21 08:17

    Joan London tells the story of Maya De Jong's disappearance through the eyes of her parents in this novel. As Tony and Jacob search for their daughter they find themselves backtracking to their own upbringings. London's juxtaposition of past and present artfully illustrates the impacts parents have on their children, whether intentional or not. And in turn how that is passed down to the next generation as the children grow and become parents themselves. I found that there were so many intricate themes throughout the book, weaving through the different characters' POVs that I was never tempted to put it dow- as I've read in some reviews. In my opinion London's writing here was quietly engrossing and the tension built subtly through the book all the way to the very end.

  • Anne
    2019-03-03 15:13

    I found London's approach to this story interesting. It is a book about several people's lives rather than simply a story about a 'lost' daughter (who is lost in more ways than one). This is definitely a novel where the sum of its parts is greater than the whole.Everyone has a 'story' to tell although most of us don't ever have the opportunity or ability to tell it. But we all have a past and have developed our own ways of muddling through our lives - some more successfully than others, or perhaps it just seems that way.I liked the finale although aspects of it were a tad contrived. But, to me, London had effectively put everyone's lives in the TO BE CONTINUED basket. Just as they should be.

  • Lisa
    2019-03-05 08:26

    Joan London is the celebrated author of Gilgamesh - which was short-listed for the Miles Franklin and won the 2002 The Age Book of the Year fiction prize – but despite high praise from the critics, The Good Parents seems to have sunk without a trace, not even longlisted in the major prizes and not given much prominence in my favourite bookshops. It hasn’t shown up in anyone’s Top Ten, or BBRLMs as far as I can remember. Odd, because it’s a very interesting book and I bet it would make a very good choice for a book group discussion.It's a really interesting book that should have made award shortlists, see

  • Linda
    2019-03-14 09:03

    An Australian girl, Maya de Jong, goes missing, presumably with her boss, and her parents travel to her city, and back in time in their own lives, to find her. I've read several Australian writers over the last few months, and there is something very dark about their writing. I don't have any great desire to go there, but do wish I knew someone from there so I could endlessly quiz him/her about what it is like. Joan London (NOT the "journalist") writes beautifully and truly makes you feel you are right there with Maya and her parents. Normally I prefer dialog and don't enjoy so much detail about physical surroundings, but in this case, all the descriptive phrasing really works.

  • Belinda Rule
    2019-03-10 09:21

    A drama about the family life of Australian ex-hippies - all of whom seem like a real person that you once went to an election night party with in 1983. One of those books that makes things suddenly seem possible. Written in multiple voices that are often at odds with each other, but all of which are tremendously engaging and sympathetic. Wonderful.I have a minor niggle about the ending - I am not sure a particular relationship that is formed in the closing moments of the book is viable or plausible.

  • Barbara Rhine
    2019-03-02 10:12

    The mother Toni, in this fabulous novel about a missing daughter, is beautifully portrayed, not only in the back story about her own troubled youth, but also in the present, when her children are just about grown. This is a wonderful book, set in Australia and ranging over three generations, whose plot and subject matter is too complex to describe in one paragraph. There are many reasons to read it, and a main one is the mother, with her past that mirrors her daughter’s present, her current long-term weary marriage, and her struggle through Buddhism to find comfort in her helpless fear.

  • Angela
    2019-03-22 15:22

    Quite an absorbing book, I haven't read much by Australian authors other than Tim Winton, so it was nice to read something based in Melbourne and W.A. in settings which I could really relate to and be immersed in. The main character Maya is rather passive and forgettable, however I found many of the other characters very engaging, especially the mother Toni. This book is mostly about looking back, memories, reflection...I'm making it sound rather dull, but it was really well-written and it kept me interested the whole way through.

  • Maggi
    2019-03-08 15:58

    Interesting book. I didn't like the first chapter but was drawn in more deeply as I read on. The idea that children may repeat the sins of their parents despite all efforts is rarely explored. Complex characters, some of whose motivations are somewhat inexplicable strike me as realistic. Longterm decisions made without enough thought as to the consequences? Absolutely common in the real world. How we shape our decisions and move along through flawed lives, how we base so much on wrong assumptions -- these concepts are not usually found in novels. I liked it!

  • Gabrielle Trenbath
    2019-03-02 10:01

    While this story revolves around a girl’s (Maya) disappearance from Australia’s cultural capital of Melbourne, a lot of the story is based in Perth and WA. This story has more to do with the lives of Maya’s family than her actual disappearance which I found a little disappointing since I wanted to know more about why felt the need to do that to her family. But having said that, the stories of her parents were cool and had me wanting to know what happened and one question I had, why does Perth seem more exciting in books than in real life??

  • Erica
    2019-03-26 12:03

    In The Good Parents, an 18-year-old girl named Maya disappears right before her parents come to visit her. Instead of really looking for her, they at first seem to do not much of anything at all while the author relates the story of how they ended up together, which was somewhat interesting. Meanwhile, Maya, the center of this novel, has no personality and is as dull as dirt. I did not care at all whether she came back in the end.

  • Deborah
    2019-03-26 08:23

    Maya is having an affair with her boss. Prior to her parents visit, she agrees to go on a trip with her boss and his new business partner. Her parents arrive and are confused as to her whereabouts. Maya's parents want to find her but get lost in memories of their past. Good story, but I think Maya's parents should have been more proactive in their search for their missing daughter.

  • Rachel
    2019-03-26 15:01

    I didn't enjoy this quite as much as London's previous novel Gilgamesh, but it is a great inter-generational tale of parents and children and parents when they were children. The cast of characters is colorful and engaging and the taste of modern Australian culture is interesting to us North Americans.

  • Caitlin
    2019-02-23 08:09

    Easily the best Australian novel I've ever read. Loved the way it captured growing up in rural WA and escaping to the Big Smoke of Melbourne - surprised how happy I was to see my own experience in a novel, am so used to just reading stuff set overseas. I will definately read anything else I can find by this author.